American Pilgrims is echoing official advice from numerous sources to postpone all international travel. We will continue to pass along news from the official and authoritative sources listed below. We recommend you stay up to date on the virus using official and reliable sources for information. Keep in mind there is a lot of misinformation, speculation and inaccuracies on the internet. Use your best judgment. The US State Department has in place a Level 3 advisory: International travel is not advised.

As the situation in Spain is subject to change – forward or backward – at any time, we suggest “El País” in English for up-to-date general news. As of the end of October the situation in Spain has once again regressed. The Prime Minister on October 25th declared a state of alarm, in effect until next May, which gives local states and localities to make decisions about COVID restrictions. Using this new tool, Aragón, Asturias and the Basque Country on Monday said they would seal their own borders, allowing only essential travel in and out of their territory. Two other regions, Navarre and La Rioja, had already closed off their territory last week after seeking court authorization. Numerous other regions have instituted cross-border and other restrictions, too many to list here as it is a moving target.

On June 29th, the European Union approved a list of countries whose passport holders will be allowed into the EU. The United States is not on that list. At present US passport holders, with only very special and specific exceptions, are disallowed entry into the EU. This severe restriction is likely to remain in place until the US COVID-19 case rate falls below that of the EU. As of early July those numbers are about 15 per 100,000 for the EU and about 145 per 100,000 for the US. Clearly this restriction is very likely to linger into the end of the year. More specifically, as of August 7th, U.S. citizens cannot enter Spain unless they meet very specific requirements or have already obtained special permission from the Spanish Embassy.
See: https://es.usembassy.gov/health-alert-update-on-specific-measures-implemented-in-the-madrid-region-in-response-to-an-increase-in-covid-19-cases-29-july-2020-2/

The Washington Post, July 8, 2020: “Everything Americans need to know about the E.U. travel ban

July 25, 2020: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has established a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers returning to the UK from Spain. Spanish officials have begun reimposing various restrictions, fearing the emergence of a second wave of infections.

American Pilgrims local chapters are following applicable state and local public health recommendations and requirements concerning chapter events. We encourage everyone to abide by these restrictions.

The new normality: Until the crisis is over, masks will be mandatory when distancing cannot be maintained. By “over” they mean the epidemic is under control or there is an effective treatment or there is a widely available vaccine. The timing of all of those is questionable.  See https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-06-09/spanish-cabinet-approves-decree-for-new-normality-after-coronavirus-state-of-alarm-ends.html

This is a site (Spanish) that seems to be timely and comprehensive:
https://www.spain.info/en/discover-spain/practical-information-tourists-covid-19-travel-spain/#
The section “What is the current situation in each area of Spain?” about 2/3’s of the way down the page offers province by province information.

The Spanish government in conjunction with the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality has issued requirements for ALL albergues in Spain. The term “albergue” refers to “hostel” style facilities, not only those on the Camino. There is no differentiation between commercial establishments and municipal or donativo albergues. These recommendations involve changes drastically different from the albergue experience of the past.
Hostels on the Camino: Health Recommendations
Hostels on the Camino: Sanitary Recommendations

The Executive Committee of the Jacobean Council has issued a guide for those planning on walking or cycling on the Camino. They have created a sheet with specific recommendations concerning items that must be brought with you and new procedures that will be encountered.

La Asociación de Municipios del Camino de Santiago (ACMS) has posted the following video on YouTube with the “Essentials of the Camino” as we go forward in the age of COVID-19. You can find more information on the ACMS website.

The U.S. State Department’s COVID-19 Travel Alert page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/novel-coronavirus-hubei-province–china.html

Some official and reliable sources:
• https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
•  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• The World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
• The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus-china

Spain-specific information sources:
• The Spanish Health System is posting timely announcements in their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/SaludPublicaEs
• The Spanish Ministry of Health (Spanish):
https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov-China/home.htm
https://www.mscbs.gob.es/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov-China/situacionActual.htm
• Status of COVID-19 in Spain, including regional details (Spanish):
https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/50d6c4c5599a43f4bebf517daa3a97b6
• El Camino con Correos has posted helpful information on their blog: https://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/en/blog/camino-de-santiago-and-covid-19
• “El País in English for current news.

The U.S. Embassy in Spain: https://es.usembassy.gov and then search “coronavirus”.

We suggest doing a general search (e.g., Google) using the keywords <spain coronavirus> and in the result, choosing official and reliable sources.

The WHO recommends following these basic protective measures against the new coronavirus: wash your hands, maintain social distance, wear a mask as is appropriate and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Ivar Rekve, who lives in Santiago and who administers the Camino forum, posts updates from Santiago periodically. This is his post from September 7th:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=307&v=2U-fp0-EJyY

Stay informed to make informed decisions. If you are considering going to Spain, add into your thinking the possibility of contracting COVID-19 while you are in transit or while you are there and then being treated in a very unfamiliar medical setting. What will your medical insurance cover?

This is obviously a story that is developing daily, if not hourly. Stay informed and make informed decisions. Refrain from forwarding unreliably sourced information. Wash your hands – thoroughly and often!

10/24/20

NIAID-RML image of coronavirus
Photo credit: NIAID-RM